Natural Products and Pharmacies
Mankind managed to survive for thousands of years without the knowledge and scientific accomplishments enjoyed by those living in the 20th and 21st centuries. Natural products played a vital role in the success of the human race, and remain a popular choice today by those who either don’t believe in or experienced no success with modern pharmaceuticals. What role do natural products play in pharmacy today, and do they work?
The Role of Herbs and Supplements in Pharmacy
As mentioned above, herbs and supplements were used for millennia to keep mankind alive in the face of diseases and viruses that threatened the existence of people. Today, herbs and supplements still play a vital role in the primary healthcare system for millions of people.
In fact, modern medicine is turning increasingly toward herbal remedies in the 21st century to help with diseases and symptoms. First of all, the world is short on new treatments for diseases. Developing new drugs can take years of research and development, and sometimes the resulting drug is prohibitively expensive, making it virtually useless to the public at large.
On top of that, the growing drug resistance of some diseases has rendered popular antibiotics and vaccines helpless to stop the spread of diseases that were once considered contained and under control.
What is Pharmacognosy?
Although little known by the general populace, pharmacognosy is among the oldest forms of modern science, and involves the study of medicines derived from plant and animal sources. The National Institutes of Health defines pharmacognosy as “the science of biogenic or naturally derived drugs, pharmaceuticals, and poisons, and it incorporates various modern analytical techniques to authenticate and control the quality of crude drugs.”
To many researchers and scientists, pharmacognosy is the actual foundation of modern pharmacy, though its historic contributions to the field have been largely erased from the memory in the Western world. Today, pharmacognosy is again playing a key role in the development of new drugs and pharmaceuticals derived from natural sources, such as plants.
Do Natural Products Really Work?
While billions of people around the globe still turn to herbs and supplements for healthcare and various ailments, and modern science is again looking to natural products for solutions, the question remains, “do natural products really work?”
There is evidence that plant-based products helped heal the earliest problems of mankind. From chewing on basic herbs to relieve pain to wrapping leaves around wounds to aid in the healing process, herbal remedies have existed for thousands of years. Advancements in the 20th century pushed people away from these cures.
Today, modern biology and traditional medicine can work hand in hand, using the tools of chemistry to unlock the potential synergies of herbs and supplements to create new, more powerful drugs capable of helping people with anything from dementia to insomnia to cancer. Numerous natural compounds have proven themselves effective in treating disease, not because of their original nature, but because of their interaction inside the human body. Once broken down, the molecules offer beneficial help in relieving pain and even fighting off disease.
There is still a long road ahead in using natural herbs and supplements to create new drugs, but hope exists. Natural remedies have helped people for years, but unlocking new solutions will require a combination of traditional and modern medicine.